Yesterday, a federal judge ordered a school district in the State of Mississippi to desegregate sixty-two years after Brown v. Board of Education. So obviously the state is a model of civil rights and should be trusted to extend those to all minorities.
When Attorney General Loretta Lynch issued the recommendations from the White House for all schools to follow regarding transgendered students, the Mississippi Department of Education stunned the world by responding affirmatively that they would follow the guidelines. However, the ensuing backlash has been swift. We are now sitting on a metaphorical powder keg, and I do not think it is an exaggeration to imagine it could end up requiring outside intervention.
Take the state that is fiftieth in education and first in self-righteousness, add recently passed legislation that eased already lax concealed-carry gun laws, throw in an extreme dose of racial backlash towards the entire Presidential Administration, back it up with the home of the American Family Association, on top of the infamous House Bill 1523 legalizing discrimination in the name of “SINcerely held religious beliefs”, and something is bound to blow.
The showdown has started. The Representatives, Senators, and even Governor Bryant have already issued statements ranging from an outright refusal to comply to a blatant threat to fire every member of the department. The few dissenters have been met with hostility that would embarrass most sane bigots, but is waved proudly here in the name of Fundamentalist Righteousness.
The heart-breaking part of all of this is, caught in the middle of the tug-o-war of posturing for votes and money and status at the pearly gates, there are children we should be protecting and cherishing and loving…but instead the rednecks are vilifying and bullying them for their personal and political gain. And their front line defenders are the teachers who may be putting their jobs on the line to defend them.
Per the Clarion Ledger:
A group of 11 state lawmakers on Tuesday released a letter to state Superintendent Carey Wright, reiterating Bryant’s call for MDE to not follow the federal guidelines.
Dear Dr. Wright,
The representatives of Desoto County, the State of Mississippi and its citizens stand with Gov. Bryant asking the Mississippi Department of Education to disregard the recent edict handed down by the federal government on school bathroom policy. The demand that all state public schools allow students to use the bathroom and locker room of the “sex they identify as” is nonbinding, and does not carry the force of law.
We ask you, Dr. Wright, to withdraw the recent policy statement made on May 13, 2016, that states the Mississippi Department of Education will adhere to the “joint guidance” issued by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education. The policy of allowing boys or men into bathrooms and locker rooms with girls poses a threat to the safety and well-being of every school-aged girl in this state. This policy is in direct opposition to the morals and values of the people of Desoto County and Mississippi and puts our children in danger.
Dr. Wright, if you are unable or unwilling to protect our children by reversing this policy we ask that you step down from your position as leader of our educational system. The people of this State demand a leader who shares our goals and values and who is willing to protect our children even under pressure from federal agencies to do otherwise. We also expect a swift and public reversal of this decision. (source)
In addition, several lawmakers have posted public notices on their Facebook pages which have attracted numerous comments. On just Representative Robert Foster’s page, there were over 375 comments as of this writing. The vast majority were supportive of the congressman, although many were unnecessarily graphic – and not moderated – including some in which the representative himself appeared to attack anyone who disagreed with him. Several of his constituents, also teachers, spoke out in concern; Representative Foster responded by questioning their competence to teach. It appears they may be able to bring suit if the Congressman follows through, and they are fired in retaliation for exercising their first amendment rights.
So now the State of Mississippi has opened itself to losing billions of dollars in federal funding, lawsuits for violating the civil rights of transgendered students, potential harassment and threats against teachers by public officials, and they are calling for the jobs of everyone in the Department of Education. In addition, they are fighting multiple lawsuits in federal court to defend the Constitutionality of HB1523.
Did I mention this state is fiftieth in education? They’ve decimated the budget; now they’re stomping out what’s left.